Carbon monoxide (CO) is an extremely poisonous gas that is tasteless, odourless and colourless; it is produced by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels, such as gas, wood and coal.
Household appliances that we use every day to heat our homes and cook our meals, can cause a carbon monoxide leak if they are faulty, poorly maintained or incorrectly installed.
Known as the ‘silent killer’, exposure to carbon monoxide gas can cause a range of symptoms, from headaches and nausea to loss of consciousness – and at worst, death.
So, how do you know if you and your loved ones are at risk, if carbon monoxide is near impossible to detect? The best way to stay protected is by installing a carbon monoxide alarm – designed to alert you to the danger when even low levels are detected in your home.
In this blog, we will discuss the different levels of carbon monoxide exposure, the impacts on the human body, and how to protect yourself from the dangers.
Carbon monoxide is produced by household appliances that are powered by fuel, such as furnaces and boilers, fireplaces, log burners, and cookers. If these household appliances stop functioning correctly, it can result in the incomplete combustion of fuel and a build-up of carbon monoxide within your home.
Carbon monoxide poisons the body when it enters the bloodstream and lowers the amount of oxygen that can be carried around the body. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
The amount of carbon monoxide in the air is measured in parts per million (ppm) – the higher the CO concentration and the longer you are exposed, the worse the symptoms will become, even resulting in death.
Carbon monoxide poisoning leads to approximately 200 hospitalisations every year in the UK alone, which results in around 60 deaths.
To protect your home from CO you should install and maintain a carbon monoxide alarm and be aware of the associated symptoms.
The best way to protect your family and home from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a carbon monoxide alarm. For the best protection, we recommend fitting carbon monoxide alarms in line with BS EN 50292:2013 – the guidance says that alarms should be fitted in:
We also recommend testing your carbon monoxide alarms once a month to ensure they are working order for the best protection.
Your carbon monoxide alarm is designed to trigger in response to how quickly the levels of carbon monoxide in the room will begin to effect the human body. Based on our Ei3018 carbon monoxide alarm, the response times and alerts are as follows:
It’s important to know exactly what your carbon monoxide alarms sound like, so it isn’t mistaken for anything else! If your alarm is triggered, it will beep three times, followed by a pause. This sequence will continue until the level of carbon monoxide in your home has dropped to a safe amount.
Effective from 1st October 2022, there will be a new legislation for carbon monoxide alarms in rented properties in England.
Click the link to find out more about carbon monoxide alarm legislation for rented properties.
Another way to stay safe from carbon monoxide is to have any fuel-burning appliance, such as boilers and cookers, regularly serviced by a registered engineer. This will ensure that your appliances are working correctly and unlikely to cause a carbon monoxide leak.
It’s also essential that chimneys and flues are free from blockages to aid proper ventilation, reducing the risk of a build-up of carbon monoxide. Once a year, you should organise for a qualified sweep to clear the chimney or flue from top to bottom.
If your carbon monoxide alarm sounds, always err on the side of caution and follow the correct emergency procedures.
If you want to find out more about carbon monoxide and what you can do to stay safe, visit our carbon monoxide awareness page.
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